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Rapid Reads: 6 Big stories of the day

Didn’t have time to catch up on your Tuesday morning news? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are the top stories everyone will be talking about today:

1. Clinton cracks down on student debt

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has unveiled a $350 billion plan to reduce student debt. The plan would provide grants to states in exchange for a pledge that no student should have to take out loans to pay for a four-year university. It would also require students to help pay their way through school by working 10 hours per week. Under the plan, community college would be free and the interest rates on student loans would be drastically reduced. The $350 billion price tag would be financed over 10 years by reducing tax deductions for the richest one percent. — USA Today

More: Student loan provider to pay for shamefully overcharging military members

2. More police, more problems

Ferguson, Missouri, officials have declared a state of emergency after staged acts of civil disobedience turned violent in some places. Police arrested dozens of protesters and gunfire was reported in several places. The vast majority of protesters are there to peacefully demonstrate and commemorate the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, but tensions are still high. The state of emergency allows the county police force and its top commander to take control, but there is real concern that the added force will escalate the situation instead of bring peace. — The New York Times

More: Is Ferguson, Missouri, a glimpse into our future?

3. You had one job, EPA

Last week, a huge waste water spill turned the Animas River in Colorado into yellow sludge. Now it’s come to light that the spill was three times bigger than previously thought and it was triggered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself. Apparently an EPA-supervised clean-up crew accidentally breached a dam inside the Gold King Mine that had been sealed since the 1920s. That sent 3 million gallons of toxic water pouring into the river, which is now registering with high levels of arsenic, lead and other potentially toxic metals. It’s unclear what effect the spill will have on humans and wildlife, but something tells me the environment is thinking about hiring a new bodyguard. — NBC News

4. Google is having an identity crisis

Google announced a massive restructuring yesterday that will separate the basic functions of the company from some of its loftier enterprises. Under a new parent corporation called Alphabet, Google will continue to innovate existing products, while separate arms of the company take on things like self-driving cars and curing disease. Google has expanded over the years from a search engine to a major player in tech. The restructuring will allow them to go back to the basics while still investing their best and brightest in developing these incredible side projects. — The New York Times

More: Which states Googled the craziest things in 2014?

5. Pepsi changes the diet soda game

Pepsi is set to release a new version of their diet soda this week that does not contain aspartame. The aspartame has been replaced with sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda. Pepsi’s sales have been in the can the past few years, so they’re hoping this move will draw consumers who either don’t like the taste of aspartame or are turned off by the artificial sweetener’s oft-reported ill health effects. If successful, the move could inspire other drink makers to make the switch. — People

More: Pepsi removes aspartame to save its diet soda sales

6. You won’t want to miss this

The optimum viewing period for the Perseid meteor shower begins tonight. The shower is set to peak between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, coinciding with the new moon. The absence of a moon in the sky will give spectators the chance to see even the dimmest of meteors if they’re in a good viewing area. The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event that happens when Earth’s orbit passes through the Comet Swift-Tuttle’s debris field. The meteors have been visible since late July but Earth is moving through the densest part of the stream this week, which could mean the chance to see up to 80 meteors per hour.  — Los Angeles Times

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